Smart Meter– Embracing the Smarter Change to Revolutionize The Indian Power Sector

Indian cities, which presently house 30 percent of country’s population, are expected to welcome around 300 million new urban residents, a size equivalent to the population of United States, by 2050. Taking into account the geographical terrain, rapid expansions and the economic growth; India, unlike the developed countries of the world, is one of the few countries which is a great Greenfield site for developing the futuristic smart cities. While Smart Grid will act as the backbone of the smart cities project, Smart Meters will be the building blocks for the same.

A Smart Meter can revolutionize the way electricity is consumed in India. A Smart Meter looks like a normal meter but enables two-way communication between the meter and the Utility’s central system .It will empower the user with the advantage of tracking electricity consumption in real-time, save heavily on electricity bills, have accurate data on electricity consumption, and avail prepaid facility – which will result in improved quality of supply and power reliability.  The meter will also help in faster outage detection and restoration of service by accurately sending information of the outage to the Utility thereby decreasing restoration time in case of outages. 

With over 290 million traditional electric meters nationwide, India represents the largest untapped Smart Meter market in the world. It is important to look at the deployment of Smart Meters not as a product but as a comprehensive solution for achieving the goal of 24X7 power for all Indians. The potentiality of Smart Meters lies in data analysis as it will help in calculating exact reliability indices which most Utilities are still not sure of. Same data could be used for demand forecasting, reduction of technical losses by better load balancing and effective network planning. Advance analytics using the data will further help in reducing transformer other vitals equipment failure rate which is abnormally high in case of some Indian Distribution Utilities. Above All, AT&C losses which is making these distribution utilities financially stressed could also be controlled to a greater extent in absence of manual reading and with the access to real time data. 

Around the world, most Smart Meter deployments are being driven by Governmental mandates. Nations such as the US, South Korea, and Japan have issued legislation targeting 100% market penetration for smart meters. The US and Japan, owing to their weather resiliency challenges, are focused on creating a more responsive and robust modern day smart grid, capable of moderating critical system failures. The Asian Giant, China, is particularly focused on developing new infrastructure to provide reliable and cheap electricity to support economic growth driven in part by the country’s current Five Year Plan to deploy Smart Meters. The European Union has made a directive for 80 percent of EU meters to be upgraded to Smart Meters by 2020. Utilities across the world are exploring various business models in collaboration with partners, customers and competitors to leverage the value created by mass Smart Meter deployment and enhance their revenue streams with strategic roll out of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems in their service area.

India is also taking cues from the global development and is focused on creating a positive roadmap for adoption of Smart Meters. The Ministry of Power (MoP), Government of India (GoI)  has come out with several transformational policy initiatives for reforming the power sector in India including the Smart Meter National Program (SMNP) which aims to replace conventional meters with smart meters. The UDAY Scheme launched by the Government of India in 2015 also emphasized on using smart metering for improvement in Operational Efficiency of Discoms. The National Smart Grid Mission (NSGM) is coordinating with State Governments, utilities and other stakeholders for the rollout of smart grid projects and monitor implementation. Smart Grid and Meters initiative under the NSGM would assist Utility companies to optimize system asset utilization, reduce T&D (transmission & distribution) losses and peak load management – which will mitigate further losses.

The increasing demand for reliable power supply and real-time energy consumption monitoring by power users will require real-time monitoring of power grids and efficient distribution by power companies. Consequently, the development and large-scale use of renewables, energy management technologies, and efficiency measures are expected to contribute to the projected Smart Meter market growth. Smart metering deployment has the potential to deliver value across the entire value chain and has emerged as the dominant entry point into the smart grid journey for most distribution utilities.

Tata Power Delhi Distribution has started installation of 2.5 lakh smart meters in the first phase of its Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) which will be completed by end of 2019. The total replacement and completion of 18 Lakh smart meters will be completed by 2025. The  complete installation of Smart Meters will help us in bringing down AT&C losses at least by 1.5 %, which is equivalent to around ₹100 Cr savings annually.

I firmly believe that Smart Meters are a win-win for both the Discoms and the consumers and will lead to savings and system efficiencies. India’s smart meter deployment will go a long way to not only help power reach the last mile but will also open a realm of new possibilities in the future. Having a strong Government push and positive development to pursue smart metering, India is geared up to create a Smart Meter revolution.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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